do tax volunteers do?
Forsyth Working Families Partnership offers free income tax preparation for
families earning under $54,000 at a variety of sites from January 23 to April 17. IRS-certified volunteers file federal
and state returns electonically at no charge to the taxpayer.
There are four jobs for volunteers: Volunteer Tax Preparer, Intake Coordinator/Greeter, Quality Reviewer, and Tax
Volunteer Tax Preparers prepare basic tax returns, using TaxSlayer software, and file them electronically.
Intake Coordinator/Greeters oversee client
sign-in, assist clients in completing the Intake sheet and direct them to the complementary on-site services where available.
Quality Reviewers review all tax returns completed by Volunteer Tax Preparers at the tax site, ensuring every customer
visiting the site receives top quality service and that the tax returns are error-free.
Tax Coaches provide support to the taxpayers who are using the Tax Lab - Facilitated Self Assistance sites.
Do I need to be a “math” person to volunteer as a Tax Preparer?
Not at all. All the
math is done by computer. You need to like to meet new people and to think logically, so that you get the information you
need to complete the return. You also need basic computer and typing skills.
How do I get
You must be certified by the
IRS at the Basic and Intermediate level to be a Volunteer Tax Preparer. Intake Coordinator/Greeters must take the Volunteer
Standards of Conduct Training.
There are several
ways to get the training and certification:
workshops, including Tax Law (this teaches you the questions to ask) and using the TaxSlayer software. Workbooks are
provided. Contact Delores McCullough to get schedules and to register to ensure your space in the session. Each training consists of two classes. Pick one
of the following four sessions.
- Session One: Monday and Tuesday, November
21 and 22, 9:00 a.m. to noon
- Session Two: Monday and Tuesday, November 28 and 29, 9:00 a.m.
- Session Three: Friday, December 2, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, December
3, 9:00 a.m. to noon
- Session Four: Tuesday and Wednesday, December 6 and
7, 9:00 a.m. to noon
All training sessions are held at Experiment in Self-Reliance,
3480 Dominion Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.
can take an online "Link and Learn" course from the IRS. This
interactive course teaches the basics needed to accurately prepare 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ income tax returns for individuals
and is completely self-paced. The 2016 tax year course and
information is available at http://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/ If you do this, you can get the accompanying workbooks from Delores McCullough at EISR or download them as PDF files (see
Links page). These are large publications, so you might not want to print
them. The Link and Learn course also provides Practice Lab using the
online software. Get information about Practice Lab by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
- You can also use the workbooks alone to study for the tests.
- Additional training opportunities are generally offered by the IRS and will be
posted as they are scheduled.
AARP also offers
the training in a several formats in January. Contact Steve Graf at 336-653-9222 for more information.
There is no charge for the training or materials.
How do I take the certification
In order to be certified, you must
pass the Basic and Advanced tests, either online or on paper (if on paper, Shirley Abdullah at EISR will grade your test).
If you do it online, you must submit your Volunteer Agreement to Delores McCullough before volunteering.
How much time am I expected to volunteer?
Volunteer Tax Assistors are asked to commit
at least ten hours a month for the 3-month tax season (30 hours total, February to mid-April), but most volunteer one or two
sessions a week (three to four hours each). You can be flexible and volunteer at different sites as your schedule permits.
You can sign up for the shifts and locations that are most convenient.
Intake Coordinator/Greeters are asked to work for 4 hours at least once a week.
Where are the tax preparation sites this year?
VITA sites for 2017 (tax year 2016) include libraries and agencies
throughout Forsyth County. Locations and times of operation are on the Sites page.
What if I make a mistake?
No one’s perfect.
But you will be well trained and there are several checks on your work. The tax software catches most errors, and each return
is reviewed by the site manager, a Quality Specialist, or VITA director before it is actually filed.
As a VITA
volunteer you are protected from any liability for any mistakes you make.
How long does it take to prepare a return?
Most returns can be
completed in a half-hour or so. Returns for taxpayers who have multiple employers or many dependents, child care expenses,
and education credits may take longer. Careful preparation is more important than speed. You want to make sure that the taxpayer
reports income and deductions accurately, pays only what he/she owes, and gets the maximum refund for which he/she is eligible.
Why is this free tax preparation program important?
First, you are directly helping people who don’t make a lot of money to get
what they’ve earned. Even if a taxpayer isn’t eligible for the EITC, you have saved them hundreds of dollars that
a tax preparation firm would charge. And if you have filed for the EITC for someone who would otherwise have filed a 1040-EZ
and missed this credit, your work may have added up to $6,200 to their pocket. Think what difference that could make for a
family trying to buy their first house, pay off bills, or just keep their children in clothes and food.
the EITC helps our local economy. The IRS estimates that Forsyth County taxpayers did not claim $8,000,000 (yes, eight million
dollars) in EITC for which they were eligible. That’s money that could be spent locally and support our local economy.
By offering free tax preparation, you can help ensure that those dollars come home.
I need more information!
Call Delores McCullough at ESR - 722-9400 x 172 for more information or to sign up and get materials. Or send her
an email with your contact information.